A small band of Senate Republicans said Wednesday that it intends to oppose all spending bills that are brought to the Senate floor until the chamber approves a budget — a position that could spread among GOP lawmakers.
“I plan to vote against proceeding to all individual appropriations bills until the Senate passes a budget,” Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.) said in a release after voting to prevent the Senate from taking up the fiscal 2012 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs appropriations bill.
The chamber voted 89-11 to move to the bill. But those 11 could get company as Republicans look to keep the focus on their calls to reduce the deficit.
“Unbelievably, it has been 805 days since a budget has been passed in the Senate, and we absolutely should not be considering any bill to spend federal dollars until we have done the basic job of deciding what appropriate spending levels for the year should be,” Corker said.
Senate Budget ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who also voted against taking up the spending bill, said Wednesday: “I expect the concern to grow in the weeks to come” if other spending bills are brought to the floor without action on a budget plan.
Sessions also plans to use other procedural roadblocks against the military construction measure, such as a point of order, and raise points of order against other appropriations bills. Sessions announced he will also push a bill to increase the number of votes needed to waive the point of order. But that has little chance of passing because the Republicans make up a 47-vote minority in the Senate.
Senate Democratic leaders have delayed consideration of the annual budget resolution until Congressional leaders and the White House agree to deficit reduction package, which is expected to set discretionary spending levels for fiscal 2012 and possibly for future years.
Republicans contend that by not taking up a budget, Democrats have put off their basic legislative responsibility of making difficult choices on what to fund in tough economic times. The GOP also contends that Senate Democratic leaders are delaying the budget in order to protect their Members from taking on politically unpopular votes.
Corker’s and Session’s attitude also stems from a frustration over difficulty in coming to an agreement on how to reduce the deficit.
“Its an embarrassment to me that our country is where it is and doesn’t have the ability to deal with these issues as they need to be dealt with,” Corker said after a vote Wednesday.
Congressional leaders and the White House plan to meet every day, including weekends, until a plan is finalized. The deficit reduction package is needed in order to win enough support in Congress to increase the debt ceiling by Aug. 2, when the Treasury Department contends the nation will exhaust its borrowing capacity. The failure of Congress to act by the deadline would cause the nation to begin to default on its debts.
However, not all Senate GOP Members believe there will be a wave of opposition to spending bills.
“The majority should have a budget, but it doesn’t mean we can’t continue to defend the country and do the things that we need to do to meet out obligations,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of the Appropriations Committee. “I think if we can get some of these bills done at a level that we can agree on, we should get them done.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said it also depends on the bill and what it funds.
“I haven’t heard of a big movement” against spending bills, Hatch said. “I vote for everything that helps the military.”